ER Interpreters: Overcoming Language Barriers in Emergency Medicine

ER Interpreters: Using Certified Medical Interpreters in Emergency MedicineInterpreting in different healthcare settings poses unique challenges for healthcare providers and interpreters, but interpreting for Emergency Services, whether onsite, via video remote, or telephonically, may present additional challenges. Understanding these challenges and how best to utilize emergency room interpreters may reduce the risk of miscommunication, increase positive health outcomes, and decrease the stress that occurs in emergency/trauma settings.

Interpreters are an integral part of the healthcare team. When an emergency arises, a language barrier can become life or death, and certified, trained medical interpreters are mission-critical for ER medical teams.

Here are three steps to overcoming language barriers in emergency medicine and maximizing the effectiveness of ER Interpreters:


1.) Use Medically Trained, Certified Interpreters

A study done at two pediatric ERs with Spanish-speaking families found that interpretation errors that could have had“clinical consequences,” were twice as likely to happen if there was no interpreter or if the translator was an amateur, as opposed to a professionally trained interpreter. –Reuters

Why certified medical interpreters? Training is key to performing optimally in high-stress medical situations. Emergency room interpreters should have the highest level of training and be skilled in medical terminology. Telelanguage offers medical certification training for our interpreters. In addition to 120-hour TICP training, we require 120 Hours of Academic Medical Training & Healthcare Interpreting Ethics, which is well above the National Board of Medical Interpreters Requirements.


Benefits of Video Remote Interpretation

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2.) Harness Technology for Quick Interpreter Response Times

When language barriers arise in the ER, no one has time to wait on hold. Being able to reach an interpreter as quickly possible, with minimal steps, is critical.

Cutting-edge technology like Video Remote Interpretation is leading the way in hospital and ER interpretation, bridging the gap between having an on-site interpreter and telephonic interpretation, promoting the highest level accuracy in on-demand interpretation. The ability to connect to an interpreter and have enhanced visual support of ER interpreters in seconds makes it an ideal interpreting solution for emergency rooms and trauma centers.

“…Technological advances make provision of language services—to respond to federal and state mandates and improve access and quality of care to LEP persons—more feasible than is widely believed.” – Telemedicine Journal and e-Health

In many instances, telephonic interpretation is another appropriate solution for the fast-response time necessary in emergency medical situations. Telelanguage is a leading provider of over-the-phone interpreter services to customers who require the fastest connection times in the industry.


stethoscope-icon3.) Maximize Effectiveness Through Staff Adoption

Successful hospitals train staff on how to work with interpreters. The high-stress impact of emergency medicine can make it difficult for staff to work effectively with Limited-English proficient patients and ER interpreters. Providing staff with adequate training on how best to work with interpreters and LEP patients will lead to increased staff adoption, patient satisfaction, and supports positive health outcomes. Being able to access support from a professional language service provider is key. Telelanguage offers clients full-time, dedicated customer support, as well as free support materials and online/on-location training aid in staff adoption. We also offer free cultural awareness training for our clients, in order to maximize effectiveness when working with LEP patients.


ER interpreters play a vital role in emergency medicine. Understanding the challenges presented in emergency medical situations and how to overcome them will help your organization provide the best possible care for your Limited-English proficient patients.

When seconds matter, you want language support you can trust. Telelanguage has been providing superior trained and medically certified interpreters for emergency medicine since 1991, and over 70% of our current client base are healthcare entities. Ready for a more reliable language services partner? Telelanguage can help. Contact Us for a free quote or demo! Ask us about our Call Volume Discount Plans exclusively for our healthcare clients.


Call us today for medical interpretation and translation solutions at 888-983-5352

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